Batman (1989)

Year: 1989
Directed By: Tim Burton
Written By: San Hamm

RYAN’S REVIEW

Now this is more like it, Batman the way he is supposed to be portrayed.  I don’t know what they were thinking in the 60s, but they weren’t taking the character or genre seriously.  Batman isn’t a know it all do-gooder in a costume, he is a dark and haunted character that breaks the law in order to enforce it.  Batman is a good guy, but he is one of those “the ends justify the means” kind of guys which makes him more of a good guy/bad guy hero.  One thing is for certain and that is that Warner Brothers loves making movies about him, they have made both good and bad decisions about the franchise. By next summer there will have been seven live action Batman films from the studio over the past 23 years, and that wouldn’t have been possible if this movie wasn’t awesome. Batman has a great suit in this film, the Batman emblem on his chest is my favorite, I’ve always like the yellow and black best.  The Batmobile is totally badass, with a shield and the ability to be voice operated from anywhere.  The action figures and accessory toys from this film where what I played with as a 5-7 year old in the late 80s early 90s so I can assure you, all the bat gadgets were awesome.  With so many different incarnations of the character there has always been specific emphasis on how Batman, the Batmobile, Bruce Wayne, and certain other recurring aspects of the series differ from one another.  Some Batman films failed, but this one didn’t, this one set the bar high for the franchise.

Tim Burton was at his best when he made this movie, also making Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands in the years before and after.  I am a Tim Burton fan and I am a big fan of his two Batman films.  He has such an interesting ability to be both dark and colorful at the same time.  The choice of Michael Keaton to play Batman was apparently criticized but I still think he has been the best actor to play the role.  Christian Bale is great in the newer movies, but Bale has no upper lip, something important when only the lower half of your face is visible in the costume.  I doubt I would have loved the choice of Keaton in 1989 myself but having grown up with him as Batman I tend to be more accepting and think of it as the role he was made for. I have never been a Jack Nicholson fan, with few exceptions and this movie is not one of them.  I know Nicholson is legendary for the amount of money he made on this film but even before The Dark Knight I didn’t really think he was suited well for the part.  He was old even back in 1989 at 52 years old, I tend to think the Joker should be young.  You can’t cast an old man who shows his age and the ageless arch-enemy of Batman.  I know I am in the minority on this issue though, Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker made him a legend just as much as the money he made on the movie did.  I don’t think Kim Basinger was anything special in this movie but she didn’t have to be either.  It’s a rule of thumb that a comic book film must have a hot chick/love interest.  Kim Basinger served those purposes perfectly as she was in her youthful prime and on the way to a much more successful career. I don’t usually mention the musical score of a movie but Danny Elfman’s score for this movie deserves special mention.  The musical score for any movie should set the mood and guide the viewer through the movie.  The music should counter balance with the scenes to invoke the right emotion or build anticipation.  The score of this movie does both those things and more, Danny Elfman is a great composer.

I have been a little overly interested in Batman lately as my anticipation for the long-awaited Dark Knight Rises continues to build.  Over this summer I have read several Batman graphic novels actually including Batman: Year One, The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, and The Long Halloween.  The middle two are exceptionally well done and I would suggest them to anybody because they are awesome.  I have developed a new appreciation for the character and have really high hopes for Christopher Nolan’s next installment.  I’m afraid that the newer Batman films have been so good that they make this one and its sequels forgettable, but I hope that’s not the case.  This movie is a classic, a great Batman film, and the beginning of a long-standing franchise.  It is worth your time to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Doesn’t Michael Keaton make and incredibly sexy Batman? I mean, I get it…he is no Christian Bale (whom I apparently am the only non-fan of), but for me, I just get giggly whenever I hear him say “I am Batman” for the first time. Does anyone remember when Michael Keaton was the “it” guy in Hollywood? Younger generations may not, but I do. I was younger, but I remember. Wow, that never really went anywhere did it. This Batman movie was the first in this series and I think it played as a catalyst for serious comic book movies. It did for me anyway.

This Batman movie actually won an oscar for Best Art/Set Direction. I think that suits a Tim Burton film to a tee, don’t you. The plot of this film is intriguing, I believe because Jack Nicholson is just so damn scary. I don’t think I would ever want to run into him somewhere, especially after seeing him as the joker. Anything I see him in I automatically revert back to him as the Joker. Scary. I give this film two of my thumbs up and I think you should definitely watch it if you like Batman and comic book movies. These are original and beautifully directed, so check them out.

NEXT MOVIE: Batman Returns (1992)

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